May Day is many things to many people -- a day of rest and picnicking, a day of labor rights, a day marking ancient pagan traditions, a day of spring celebration. It has also traditionally been a day when you leave a basket of flowers and goodies anonymously on a neighbor's doorknob. Here's how to celebrate those traditions today in New York.
Though not technically on Saint Marks Street, this activist community church named after the saint is close and worth mentioning because it embodies the spirit of the old East Village and the tough grit I believe is fundamental to New York. The church hosts plays, dance performances, Poetry Project readings, punk free markets and puppet performances, and has a sweet garden for a picnic. You can rent the various spaces of the church as well.
The New York food favorite makes a perfect quick healthy picnic basket for two at Zabar's, with sandwiches, brownies, apples and trail mix coming in an insulated lunch box. Or go with the fancier roast chicken or Cornish hen picnic lunches, or the brie and goat cheese lunch.
Not just a gorgeous garden in summer, BBG becomes more of a cultural than botanic destination every year. From vintage parties to members' picnics, plant shopping days to the annual cherry blossom celebration, this is not to be missed. A romantic date!
Buy fresh eggs, beautiful beets, rare mushrooms, local farm-raised meat, fresh seafood, baked goods, plants, herbs, and anything out of the local earth you can imagine at this chef-frequented five-star farmer's market.
Cheese is king at this large, brassy bistro, where it's not too much to have gougeres, a cheese plate AND fondue. A perfect spot for a fun Sunday brunch or loud, lively dinner. The cheese cave is the place to reserve for a special dinner, and don't forget about their ubercheese picnic baskets to go. A retail shop on the side of the restaurant allows you to supplement what's in the picnic baskets or pick out a perfect gift. The servers are professionals, and the sommelier will patiently pick out a bottle or glasses from the excellent wine list with each member of your party.
It has a long and storied history and a vibrant culture, this park -- Occupy Wall Street protests, war demonstrations, the Greenmarket, and a holiday craft market. The first Labor Day celebration parade marched through Union Square in 1882, and mourners came to remember fellow New Yorkers lost in the months following September 11th. It's sad to see it so gentrified, but the hope is that the square itself will forever be a place for the people to give speeches, protest, peoplewatch, shop for farmers' veggies and DIY crafts, and just laze in the sun watching the Hare Krishnas play their finger cymbals.
This avant-garde artistic florist features geometric glassware, unconventional flowers, and fun window displays. I love going in to browse -- who wouldn't be pulled in by flowers that wind around Sonic Youth album covers? Be ready to pay, but for weddings, this place can make your dreams come wildly true.
This is one of my favorite places to eat in the world, as well as being one of my favorite day trip getaways. You go out and see the Berkshire pigs on the farm, and then you have the most heavenly Berkshire pork you've ever had in the restaurant. If you are going to eat meat, this is the kind of place you want to support. The farm-fresh eggs are creatively cooked, and the baby carrots are the most amazing vegetable you've ever had. The sommelier is incredibly knowledgeable in beer and wine pairings. You can take part in festivals, classes and lectures, or survey the lovely gardens and grounds. Stop by the cafe for a quick bite if you're on a road trip. A wonderful place in any season.
How sweet it is to live in New York. We make abandoned elevated rail lines into strolling parks wonderful for meditative walking and talking. The views are fantastic -- take your tourists and guests here. Grab food at Delaney Barbecue on the High Line near the 14th Street entrance.